About ASSISTments

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What is ASSISTments?

ASSISTments is a free web-based platform that allows teachers to write individual ASSISTments (composed of questions and associated hints, solutions, web-based videos, etc.). The word “ASSISTment” blends tutoring “assistance” with “assessment” reporting to teachers. It supports all subjects (i.e.,Math, English etc.) and due to federal grants, has a huge repository of math content

What is the goal?

No Child Left Behind urges schools and teachers to use formative assessment information to inform their classroom instruction. The dilemma is that every minute spent testing is a minute taken away from instruction. ASSISTments solves this problem by tutoring students on items they get wrong, thus providing integrated assisting of students while they are being assessed. Teachers can use this detailed assessment data to adjust their classroom instruction and pacing.

How is it used?

Teachers make accounts at their school, then students make accounts at the same school. Teachers assign problem sets to students for them to do when the students do the problem sets they get feedback and the teachers gets instant reports on how well they are doing, with percent correct per student and problem as well as common wrong answers.

Teachers find this content from Certified content or they use the BUILD feature to make their own.

Since the system is so simple teachers use it in many ways, for practice, open response essays, homework classwork, all at once or in centers. Click here for stories of how teachers use ASSISTments. Get inspired and come up with the right routine for your class or school.

Who is using it?

Over 10,000 students and 200 teachers

  • Most of our cooperating schools are Middle Schools and High Schools in Worcester County, MA but we have schools that use in in Maine, New Hampshire, Montana.
  • See a list of School Partners click here.

What do we know about its effectiveness?

Here is an article that shows ASSISTmetns dramatically increases student knowledge when used for homework compared to traditional homework (feedback the next day).

  • Mendicino, M., Razzaq, L. & Heffernan, N. T. (2009) Comparison of Traditional Homework with Computer Supported Homework: Improving Learning from Homework Using Intelligent Tutoring Systems. Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE). Published by the International Society For Technology in Education (ISTE). PDF

Who built the Assistments?

In 2003, Neil Heffernan and Ken Koedinger conceived of the idea of the ASSISTment system and received funding from the US Department of Education to get started. This idea was successful, in part, due to prior funding from the Office of Naval Research to build tools to make it more cost effective to build intelligent tutoring systems. In 2004, Heffernan was funded by a National Science Foundation CAREER grant to extend the Assistment system from 8th grade up to 10th grade. Since then we have had 5 more multi-million dollar grants and the project took off. Over 100 students at WPI and several full time staff at CMU helped make it all happen.

For a timeline of how ASSISTments came to be, read the History of ASSISTments

How much does it cost?

WPI gives the service away for free. Your tax dollars already paid for it to be created! To get training for your staff at your school you generally have to pay for that as that is a real cost. Go here to learn more about why it is free.


Contact Prof Neil Heffernan at WPI 508-831-5569 (nth@wpi.edu). For teacher support see Cristina Heffernan (ch@wpi.edu).

The fact sheet about ASSISTments

You can download the one-page fact sheet Fact Sheet about ASSISTments.

Video Introduction

Watch this video to see how the basics of how the system works

This page was created by Christina Heffernan (2010).

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